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WWII soldier gave up stripes to see brother

Plus other tales of local men in uniform over the years

POSTED: January 4, 2008 5:03 a.m.

John and Roger Tankersley of Murrayville both served in Germany during World War II, surviving some of the fiercest battles in the European Theater.

One battle that Roger was in was so ferocious only three or four in his unit survived. When he returned from the front, his superiors promoted him from private first class to staff sergeant on the spot. But it didn't last long.

Hearing that his brother, John, was within driving distance in Germany, Roger asked for permission to visit him. His commander refused the request.

So Roger went AWOL and spent the weekend with his brother. When he returned to his base, he was stripped of his newly earned stripes.

The brothers were two of the five Murrayville Tankersleys who fought in World War II at the same time. The others were Bert, N.C. and Peter.

They were part of a large farm family headed by Daisy and Herschel Tankersley. One of the children was Will Tankersley, father of Mickey Lawson, one of the few survivors of the family. Will barely missed the World War II draft because of his age.

The five Tankersleys who served survived the war. The oldest grandson of Daisy and Herschel Tankersley didn't. Joe Boone Cain of New Holland died early in the war when a bomb struck the ship he was on. Other grandsons also served their country.

The Tankersleys had 15 children, two girls and 13 boys, one of whom died at an early age. All worked on the farm, which had no telephone or electricity until later years.

Mickey Lawson's husband, Gordon, served on the U.S.S. Gage in the South Pacific in World War II. His ship carried the first nurses into Hiroshima, Japan, after the atomic bomb destroyed the city.

Gordon's first cousin, Homer Lawson Jr., had a lucky number following him during his service. He registered for the Army on the 13th of the month, and his physical examination was on the 13th.
When he arrived for training, he was assigned bunk No. 13 in Barracks 13. When he got a furlough, it started on Friday the 13th and was for 13 days. He returned from the war safely.

A lot of Trueloves did their duty, too, during World War II and since. The Murrayville Area News, published by the community's historical society, pictured four of them in a recent issue: Robert E. Truelove, Ralph K. Truelove and brothers Elmer and Roy Truelove. Elmer and Roy were drafted, but their brothers Ralph (not Ralph K.) and Hoyt were exempt for health or other reasons. Elmer and Roy were allowed to come home after the war because of the illness of their father.

As common as the Truelove name is in North Georgia, Roy Truelove found it unique in other parts of the country. Fellow soldiers laughed at his name printed on his helmet liner. But, said Roy, their names to him were unusual and funnier than his.

Roy also ran into a chaplain in the Army while serving in Italy. He was a student of names and their origin and asked Roy what part of North Georgia was he from because he knew Truelove was a name more prominent in this area than other parts of the country. The chaplain told him he had run across only one other Truelove.

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The next edition after the United States entered World War II against Japan, Italy and Germany, immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, the Gainesville Eagle ran a letter written by a Hall County man to the local draft board:

"I am writing you to let you know that I have a new member in my family - a boy; he was born three weeks ago, and I want you to change my answer about going to fight for my country to defend it from attack. The reason I put it like I did I objected to going across the ocean to fight others' battles, but if my country is in danger I am ready when my country needs me. God bless America. Amen."

The paper didn't print the name of the letter writer.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. His column appears Sundays and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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